Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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South Korea Halts Deployment of THAAD

Fire in the sky

(Photo : US Army) A THAAD missile system on its mobile launcher and what the system can do.

South Korea has suspended deployment of the second anti-missile battery of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system until an environmental impact assessment ordered by new President Moon Jae-in is concluded.

President Moon's office made this surprising announcement in what it said is an effort to secure greater public support for deploying two THAAD batteries in South Korea.

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A high ranking government official cited by media said the "additional deployment (of THAAD) should be carried out only after the environmental impact assessment is over.

"We do not view the deployment process as urgent enough to bypass the whole environmental impact assessment," he said.

There has also been significant public opposition to the THAAD deployment, especially among South Koreans living in the vicinity of the first THAAD site at Seongju town in north Gyeongsang Province south of Seoul.

More specifically, the first battery is located at the Lotte Skyhill Seongju Country Club atop a hill some 600 meters higher than the surrounding countryside. The U.S. began transforming this golf course into a missile based in late April.

Two THAAD launchers were deployed a few weeks later while four more launchers recently arrived in South Korea for deployment to Seongju.

With permission from Seoul, the U.S. Army is emplacing a THAAD battery consists of six mobile launchers (each with eight hit-to-kill interceptors); 72 interceptor missiles; two mobile tactical operations centers (TOCs); battle management/command, control, communications and intelligence (BMC3I) units and the AN/TPY-2 X-band ground-based radar.

The X-band radar can detect missiles 2,000 kilometers away on a forward-based mode and 600 kilometers on a terminal mode.

The deployment freeze came a few days after Pres. Moon ordered a "proper" probe into the potential environmental impact of the missile batteries.

The freeze order comes after Pres. Moon accused some South Korean and the U.S. Army of deliberately withholding key information about progress on the installation of the THAAD system.

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